Swamp Rats ready to roll at Arena 3

Pretty brutal: The Roller City Swamp Rats train at Leisureplex.
Pretty brutal: The Roller City Swamp Rats train at Leisureplex.

Palmerston North's Roller City Swamp Rats are promising a brutal but crowd-pleasing encounter when they host two teams during the city's first official roller derby bout.

The Grazed Anatomy bout will pit the Swamp Rats against Wellington's Richter City Convicts and the Taranaki Roller Corps Rumble Bees at Arena Manawatu on September 3.

Roller derby has been around since the 1920s, but had an international resurgence in the early 2000s, getting an extra boost after the release of 2009 film Whip It.

Taking place on an oval track, two teams of five players compete in two 30-minute halves, made up of rounds up to two minutes long.

A "jammer" from each team attempts to break through the pack and score points by lapping the other players.

The Swamp Rats, who have a squad of more than 25 women, have been training in Palmerston North for about 18 months, and had their first bout last month, versus Taranaki in New Plymouth.

Player-coach Justine Saunders, aka "Justass For All", said it had taken that long to get the squad's skill and strength to a competitive level.

"We've been training for over a year just to get to this point where we have the skills and strength to play a proper game.

"I think we've got a strong chance. We don't know a lot about Wellington's team but we know a little about the Taranaki team. They are very physical, so we can hopefully outplay them with some strategy."

Miss Saunders – the only Swamp Rat in the New Zealand training squad – said it was a physical sport but strictly refereed.

"People get hurt. It's quite bad for ankle injuries and broken legs. It's pretty brutal, that being said there are a lot of rules."

A large crowd would make it easier for the squad to host more games in the future, she said. "If you turn up, you're gonna have a good time. There are elements of theatrics in there, you're going to see some amazing skating skills, a really competitive game and a little bit of entertainment at halftime."

The event starts at 7pm at Arena 3 but the doors will open at 6pm. Pre-tickets cost $12 or $15 at the door.

Manawatu Standard